By Van Dirk Fisher
Every time I begin to work on the Strawberry One-Act Festival I ask myself, “What can I do to make it better and provide more exposure for the playwrights, directors and actors?” This year I was inspired by one of our alumni, Phil Reissman, who invited me to see a screening of his play that was once in the festival. Well I had to attend. I was honored to be invited and very proud of his accomplishment. It was not too long after that that my wheels started turning. I’ve always wanted to present the festival on television as a reality show and allow our viewers to see the process that the artists go through to produce their play for the festival. In the past we’ve streamed the plays online for viewers to watch them online and cast their votes and the response was tremendous, but the time element of videotaping them and getting them online on time was challenging. So I’ve decided on a new approach and The Video Diaries Project was born.
Ten filmmakers were selected to participate in the project. Each was allowed to choose the play that they wanted to film and create their documentary. The artists were told to treat the project as a personal diary and to talk about the process they go through to develop their plays. It’s meant to be raw, up close and personal. In the end the filmmaker gets to tell the story from their observation and the end results is something remarkable. I’m very proud of them and welcome any and all attention that can be bestowed on them for having the courage to dream and the will and the tenacity to pursue it.
I’ve always said that all the playwrights are winners by virtue of being selected for the festival. The process of working on their plays, the lessons they learn along the way and the contacts they make with other artists are the real prize. The experience is priceless and the memories I hope they cherish them as fondly as I do.The Video Diaries Project had a screening at the Tribeca Grand Hotel and at the Time Warner Corporate Head Quarters in NYC. Six of the best films were presented during the festival and an award and cash prize of $500 was presented to the Best Short Film of the Season, ELLEN’S DIARY by Brian Torres. Click here to watch the film. The award was presented on Sunday, August 7th at 2pm along with the awards for Best Play, UNEXPECTED COMPANY by Wendy Mae Shelton, who received $1,500 and a development deal to have a full length play produced by the Riant Theatre, Best Director, ROB DRAKE (photo right) for Wait And See What Happens by Alison Costello, Best Actor, DENNIS BRITO for Paid Off by Robert D. Argen, Best Actress, BELLE CAPLIS for Unexpected Company by Wendy Mae Shelton.
Jane Rubinsky (photo right with playwright Arlene Corsano) joined the Riant Theatre this past summer as a contributing writer for The Riant Theatre Review, which featured articles about the artists in the festival. The festival was presented at the Hudson Guild Theatre and we were blessed with plays submitted from as far away as Australia (The Flowers Don’t Grow Here Anymore by Josie Parrelli) to Utah (Horst and Graben at the Chateau Godot by Jeffrey Gold); to Vermont (The Oasis by Andrew Fridae); to Connecticut (The Prenup by Charles Gershman); to San Francisco (Love For Beginners by Cesar Abella); to Maryland (Butterfly by Trish Cole); and finally to New York (Paid Off by Robert D. Argen). There was a wide array of topics addressed in the festival plays. Our next festival will be at the Hudson Guild Theatre and run from March 1st through March 11, 2012.
The festival is currently accepting submissions for the festival. The deadline is October 30, 2011 and you may download the application by visiting our website at www.therianttheatre.com or by emailing us at RiantTheatre@gmail.com.
We are holding a competition for the Best Theme Song for the Strawberry One-Act Festival. You can download an application from our website for details on how to enter. The prize of $250 will be presented at the Awards Ceremony on March 11, 2012. Click here to hear the winner of the BestTheme Song from 2011 – IT’S STRAWBERRY TIME by Andrew Fridae and Daniel Brian Jones.
At the Launch Party for the Strawberry One-Act Festival we presented the PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARD to Broadway Producer, ALDO SCROFANI, (Photo Right) 2005 Tony Award Best Musical DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (Nominee), Screenwriter, GERALYN LUCAS, (Photo Right: Center) WHY I WORE LIPSTICK TO MY MASTECTOMY - Lifetime Network, and JEWEL KINCH-THOMAS, (Photo Right: Right) Executive & Artistic Director of Riverside Theatre, and NY Family Arts Festival. The award ceremony was followed by a panel discussion with the honorees.
A special thanks to our staff and interns who helped make the event a success. (MJ Savasana, Chloe Glickman, Van Dirk Fisher (Artistic Director), Boncellia Lewis (Singer), Jarvis Chapman, Anaridia Burgos, Elvin Greene and Carolyn Canty.)
Souvenir mugs and Strawberry One-Act Festival t-shirts are available for purchase on our website as well www.therianttheatre.com. You can also buy our latest anthology THE BEST PLAYS FROM THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL: Volume Six. It’s a good read. For those of you who are into steamy romance novels filled with suspense, you will enjoy my novel LOVING YOU. It’s available www.therianttheatre.com and www.amazon.com.
Photo of Playwrights & Directors at the Launch Party.